Floods: Calls for a national flooding agency

A past president of the Irish Academy of Engineers, and former managing director of ESB international, has repeated his calls for the establishment of a national agency to tackle Ireland’s flooding problems.

Floods: Calls for a national flooding agency

Don Moore originally made the case for a strategic approach to climate change and flooding in an article in the Irish Examiner more than five years ago.

Following the flooding that has plagued parts of the country in the past week, Mr Moore said that significantly more investment is needed to battle both river and coastal flooding.

“Given the challenge we face in the future, there is a case to be made for actually establishing a statutory agency with overall responsibility for flooding,” Mr Moore told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday.

“Now we have such an agency at the moment, the OPW, who have done a very, very good job with the resources they have available.

“They have a far bigger job to be done in the future,” he said.

Mr Moore again pointed to the Netherlands as example of a country making significant investments in its flooding infrastructure.

“They have established what they call the Delta Agency, and that has statutory responsibility, reporting to a cabinet minister, for dealing with strengthening their flood defences for the rest of the century.

“Now they are committed to spending a billion euro a year for the rest of the century.

“We are similarly going to be challenged in this kind of way and I think we have to get on with some long-term planning,” he noted.

Mr Moore said with the immediate impact of river flooding, the threat from the sea is being ignored.

“The issue that we haven’t faced up to at all, and it is probably the most serious one, is not river flooding – it is flooding from the sea. Sea level rises by the middle of the century could be half a metre or more and, combined with low pressure weather systems, we could have surges into all our cities which are around the coast,” Mr Moore said.

He described tackling this issue as “a challenge”.

“The whole of the centre of Dublin is built on the flood plain of the Liffey. That is held back by the quay walls, that we can thank our 19th century ancestors for.

“We need something like the Thames barrier. These items of infrastructure cost a billion or more at a go. So we are talking about massive investments as we go on through the century,” he said.

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